Visitor Visas FAQs
The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows citizens of certain countries to visit the U.S. for 90 days or less without obtaining a B visa (for business or tourism purposes) if certain requirements are met. Countries currently participating in the visa waiver program are: Andorra, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brunei, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Marino, Singapore, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Netherlands, United Kingdom, The Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and South Korea. It bears noting that an individual who enters under the VWP may not change, extend or adjust status in the United States. The only exception applies to individuals who wish to adjust their status as an immediate relative
Obtaining a visitor’s visa does not guarantee entry into the U.S. All persons entering the United States on a visitor’s visa must present themselves to an immigration officer at the port of entry upon arrival. Even if a visitor’s visa has been issued, the immigration officer has the authority to deny entry into the United States if the officer has reason to believe that the visa holder will not be engaging in a legitimate business (B-1 visa) or pleasure activity (B-2 visa) in the U.S., or that the visa holder is not a bona fide nonimmigrant.
The B visa is issued to foreign nationals for temporary travel to the U.S. for the purpose of tourism, visiting family members, undergoing medical treatment or attending a business conference. It is a nonimmigrant visa which implies that a B visa holder must return to his/her home country upon completion of the granted period of stay in the U.S. Therefore, one cannot apply for a green card based on a B visa. However, while in the United States, a B visa holder who is on a valid nonimmigrant status may be eligible to apply for adjustment of status through marriage with a U.S. citizen or sponsorship by an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen. However, this can be a complicated issue and if application for a change of status results in a denial, the B visa holder may be subjected to scrutiny and denial of a visa when applying again at a consulate abroad. B visa holders are strongly advised to seek professional legal help before applying for adjustment of status.
Q: I am visiting the United States and would like to extend my stay in the United States. Is this possible?
It is possible to extend an individual's stay in B status. In order to request an extension, one must file an extension request with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The request must include an explanation of why the extension is required and provide evidence of funds to support continued stay in the United States. In addition, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that he or she will return to the home country upon completion of stay. The maximum period of stay which may be granted is 6 months for each extension request.
Q: I was recently denied a B visa under 214(b) at the U.S. consulate abroad. What does this mean and when am I eligible to reapply?
Generally, in order to qualify for a visitor visa, an applicant must meet the requirements of certain sections of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). If an applicant is unable to do this, it will result in a refusal of a visa under INA 214(b). The most common grounds for this type of refusal concerns a finding by a consular officer that the prospective visitor does not have sufficient ties in his or her home country to compel applicant to leave the U.S. at the end of the stay. An applicant who is denied based upon 214(g) may re-apply at a future date. However, the consulate will maintain detailed records about previous denials, it is critical that the applicant re-apply only if he or she is able to provide new evidence to demonstrate ties to his or home country.